Saturday, June 23, 2018

Official Guide


Just got this book recently. I quite like it! It reminds me of the also very good Visual Guide for Rogue One. Our olden days frenemy, the freelance artist and art teacher from Winnipeg, the guy who should know better from his days working with West End Games, Pablo Hidalgo!

There are, in this book and in this movie, some "deep cut" references for the gentle reader. Featured in Lando's portion: a mention to the Mindharp of Sharu. In the Coronet Spaceport section is a mention of and a relief carving of "Uhl Eharl Khoehng" and the "Edjian Prince", created by Patricia A. Jackson for the short story "Uhl Eharl Khoehng" in Star Wars Adventure Journal, Vol. 1, No. 8.

I like seeing the TIE/rb Heavy Starfighter (I have no doubt we'll be seeing that one in the X-Wing Game in the future.

TIE/rb

It was also fun to learn a bit more of the story details, like the fact that the muddy ground war Han is involved in takes place on the planet Mimban. The great conveyex robbery takes place on the planet Vandor, and Savareen, the site of the backwater refinery, is near Tatooine, Geonosis, and Ryloth. 

For completeness, here is what the native Mimbanese fighters, resisting the Imperial aggression, look like:


I can't recall seeing them on the big screen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bringing Balance to the Forces...Again


As you may know, a Second Edition of the X-Wing Miniatures Game is on the way (due in stores on September 13). Alongside re-designed, streamlined rules there are new model sculpts and a nice idea for veteran collectors, like me: conversion kits.

Each conversion kit is capable of bringing a set number of ships from a given faction up to Second Edition standards; with pilot cards and cardboard base tokens, etc. A nice gesture, when FFG might have not cared too much about the existing player base. All those First Edition plastic ships can be theoretically used in the new game, as long as you have the conversion pieces.

Of course, FFG will try hard to make you re-buy things you already own, like any good miniature game upon entering a new edition. In this case, they are doing it right: by making the new models flat out better. In the case of the X-wing, the S-foils actually open and close. That's OK with me, but not enough to make me want to part with all eight of my existing T-65s.


The new Y-wing sculpt, however, did make me recently clear the decks, selling my 4 Rebel Y-wings and 1 Scum Y-wing to make room for the new guy in town. First, the old (or current) Y-wing.


Then the Second Edition re-sculpt:


Oooh, la la! A longer, skinnier neck. More pronounced laser cannons on the front, and a much larger, more visible turret! I liked it so much that I sold all of my existing models to make room for these babies.

Another item on my mind has been my dis-satisfaction with the sequel trilogy; and when this craft flew onto my radar screens, I pulled the trigger on another sale:


That's right, Lando's Falcon from the Solo movie! Even I have my limits, so the prospect of owning three Falcons was a bit over the top...and I sold all things Sequel Trilogy: the Force Awakens Falcon, my five T-70 X-wings (including Poe's Black One), all four TIE/fo and both TIE/sf ships. I am no longer a Resistance or First Order player.

Note that Lando's Falcon is a Scum & Villainy ship. Intriguing... I also hear that the escape pod can detach from the front and fly as a separate ship. Cool.

Along the way, I had to trim down my number of standard TIE fighters as well. With a new Core set I will be getting two more...to go with the 16 I had. So I sold the four alternate paint job gray ones that I had collected (two of which came in the Gozanti-class cruiser epic expansion).

My X-wing collection is now at 82 ships, down from just over 100 not too long ago. I have only Original Trilogy stuff, and avoid both the Sequel Trilogy and Star Wars: Rebels cartoon.

When Second Edition hits, I will get one base set, Lando's Falcon, four Y-wings, and one X-wing in addition to one of each conversion pack. Depending on how they look, I may sell the TIEs that come with the base game, if they don't fit well with my existing full TIE squadron. Yes, that's too much.

Before that (tomorrow, in fact) I plan to pick up the TIE Reaper expansion (to go with my two TIE Strikers). This is an interesting one as it includes material for both First and Second edition of the game.


Last Shot


Business trips with airport delays are good for reading time. Started Last Shot (Daniel Jose Older, 2018) on Monday, finished on Tuesday.

An interesting book in that it spans at least three different time periods, each working on a portion of the intertwined tale. Chapters skip back and forth between the eras as the story is shepherded towards its conclusion. One of the best parts about going back in time: we get to see the sassy L3-37.

Good writing; I am well familiar with Lando and Han and the rest, and these characters seemed true to form. Too bad Luke couldn't have been worked in, even as a cameo.

Only found one typo in the book, so that's good. Thought I was on the trail of another, when, in fact, I had merely encountered Disney's latest Star Wars nod toward inclusiveness: a new character who prefers the non-gendered pronoun "they". When used in singular form, in place of he or she, it throws one for a loop initially. As with all of these barrier lowering pushes lately, I am for it. Not used to it, but that's kinda the point. Along these lines, the author manages to work into the story the fact that a New Republic official is a man married to another man. That's fine...but again feels like we're trying to reach some quota of PC mentions per book or something. As I said before, I wind up being for this sort of thing, if for nothing else than the fact that it's overdue to have Star Wars, or anything else, be open to and inclusive of everyone. I guess for me the issue is that whenever a character's sexual preferences are mentioned in these adventure stories it is for this explicit inclusivity purpose. The story does not generally support such overt, expository statements, out of the blue, for any characters. Perhaps they should simply show these people in their relationships as a more natural part of the story. Han and Leia, saving the day, quipping romantically along the way does happen. Doug and Barry, fighting the empire, making eyes at each other across the crowded bunker could happen. Romance is surely a part of the Star Wars experience, and should be open to all. Lando and L3-37, for instance.

A few items to gripe about (of course). First: the 'droids gone wild' main plot theme is a slight retread of that found in The New Rebellion (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 1996). The technical aspects of the main scheme were weak as well. Not sure "how" it was supposed to happen. Many of the military terms were abused, like when the author mentions a battalion of A-wings, or when the only grenades to be found anywhere were thermal detonators, and even they were classically underpowered (someone threw three (3!) of them inside a small starship, in space, with almost no ill effects--tell that to Prince Xizor's castle). One of the characters is an Ewok slicer. Uhhhhh. Another is a Gungan who is basically there to make fun of Episode I in long-winded monologues. Many instances of "you should think of a new animal/place name"; not everything need come from Endor (in fact, nothing need come from Endor), not every belt is made of nerf leather, not everything hairy is bantha-like, etc. Stretch your creative muscles to grow the universe. On the flip side, "hell" doesn't seem like a Star Wars concept/word. Ruins the immersion in the fictional setting, to some extent. One last thing: apparently "ass" is an acceptable word now in SW literature. The author uses and abuses this fact to enable very frequent mentions; including setting breaking concepts such as "whup ass". Please. I much prefer "stang!" and whatnot. 

Some cool concepts: the main bad guy has an air of General Grevious about him; that's kinda cool. A Twi'lek love interest for Lando is textbook great. I am a sucker for the multi-timeline thread concept, kinda like the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (All Good Things..., 1994).

In the end, I'd say this is a decent entry into the canon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

SWAJ 12


I have been working through Star Wars Adventure Journal, Vol. 1, Number 12 (WEG, February 1997), on and off, for quite some time. There are some nice parts; including "Side Trip, parts 1 & 2". Part 1 is by Timothy Zahn. Part 2 is by Michael A. Stackpole. Nice!

A good article about Imperial Garrisons and a few decent short story/adventure ideas are included.

Onwards to lucky number 13!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Very Pleased!


All the talk of an impending Disney flop can be put to rest, as far as I am concerned. Went to see Solo last night and I was very pleased. 

I rate it after Rogue One -- which I place after the OT, all of which is before the Prequel trilogy; then The Force Awakens, then comes anything else (Ewok Adventures, Caravan of Courage, SW Holiday Special, Droids cartoon, etc), then, grudgingly, comes The Last Jedi, just before anything written by Chuck Wendig.

They managed to re-tell an origin story differently, but with some "deep-cut" nods to the past sprinkled throughout (I think I heard Lando mention a 'star cave', for instance). Qi'ira is wonderfully enticing, Lando was great, Han was better than I feared, Chewie was great. Didn't mind Woody Harrelson. Loved the L3-37 droid sidekick. Intrigued by the news that Alden Ehrenreich is signed for two more movies. Also intrigued by the surprise ending 'cameo'. No spoilers here, yet.

I have the book "Last Chance" (haven't started reading it yet) and plan to get "Most Wanted" soon.

I will likely go see this movie a few more times in the theater. Nice!

As for timeline, Del Rey books claims these events take place between the novels Tarkin and Thrawn; which doesn't help much, as it makes the window 14 BBY to "before 2 BBY". The Wookieepedia article for the movie says "13-10 BBY", slotting it around the time of Rogue One's prologue (the young Jyn Erso portion, listed as 13 BBY). 

Still no official word on the novelization of this film. How odd. All I found was this contested entry on Wookieepedia:

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Solo:_A_Star_Wars_Story_(novelization)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fully Operational (P)Review


Presented here is an overview of what one can expect from the new Fully Operational supplement.

Page 1: Opening crawl

Page 2: Inside title page

Page 3: Table of contents

Page 4: Fiction

Pages 5-9: Overview and summary

Chapter 1 (pages 8-35): Building a Rebellion
This chapter presents new backgrounds and duties for Engineer characters; three new species, the Bith, Kaminoan and Skakoan; three specializations, the droid specialist, sapper and shipwright; a list of engineer motivations; and two signature ability trees, The Harder They Fall and Unmatched Ingenuity.

Chapter 2 (pages 36-63): Tools for Freedom
Detailed in this chapter are seven new types of weapons, five explosive devices, four types of armor, various equipment items, a handful of droids, some weapon and armor attachments, nearly a dozen vehicles, and some new vehicle attachments. All in all, this looks like good new gear.

Chapter 3 (pages 64-96): Crafting Victory
This chapter provides suggestions for incorporating Engineer characters in campaigns, as well as new rules for spending Advantage on Mechanics checks, guidelines for building repair facilities, and tips for designing campaigns around Engineer characters. I need to play around with these rules in order to have a stronger opinion about them.

All in all, this seems like another solid entry in the collection. As always, the production values are high and the art is gorgeous.